President Jacob Zuma has today officially signaled the construction of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge in Ludondolo village near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Once completed, the bridge will connect the village of Mvezo, the birth place of former President Nelson Mandela in the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality to Ludondolo village on the other side of the Mbashe River. It will also connect to the new 10-kilometre tar road that will link Mvezo with the N2, and thus reduce the distance between this area and East London, Mthatha and Idutywa by more than 50 km.
The distance to Qunu village, where Madiba lives now, will be radically shortened and many visitors, both from our country and abroad, who wish to visit the birthplace of this world icon, will be able to do so, by branching off from a national road and travelling a relatively short distance on a new road, thus turning Mvezo potentially into a major tourist attraction.
This historical village of Mvezo will now act as a catalyst for economic activities and improve access to services in the area including electricity, water, flush toilets, roads, entertainment, sport centres, shopping centres, schools, and agricultural production. Providing work for over 300 people, the entire project has cost over R120 million and the positive impact is expected to be felt throughout the Eastern Cape and beyond.
There will be greatly improved access to health services, including clinics, hospitals and mobile clinics and ambulances, and this will result in the improvement of the health and general well- being of all community members as well as make it easier for the children and youth to access schools in the surrounding areas, the communities to access the police and share recreational facilities.
Skills development in the region has also been given a tremendous boost as workers on the project have been provided with training in a number of important areas, including carpentry, steel work, bricklaying and paving.
"I have no doubt that the skills acquired during the bridge and road-building process will enable these workers to become more employable in the future, and to access jobs elsewhere even after the completion of the project, and these workers will themselves have easier access to nearby towns," said President Zuma.
President Zuma said "the bridge was both a metaphor for, and a tribute to Nelson Mandela and his willingness to build bridges between people and between ideas, between young and old as well as between cultures".
"It is, after all, only fitting that we should bring positive change to Mvezo village - the birthplace of the man who changed the world, for better," said the President.